In the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic and national health emergency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditionally approved the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline today. The approval is conditioned on Pembina, the Canadian fossil fuel corporation behind the project, qualifying for critical permits from the state of Oregon.
“The Klamath Tribes are disappointed that FERC would approve a project that would harm the cultural and natural resources that are vital to our people and that we reserved to be protected through our treaty,” said Chairman of the Klamath Tribes, Don Gentry. “We will consider our options to protect those resources and we hope that the state of Oregon will stand with us.”
“It is outrageous that in this time of crisis, when many people cannot even leave their homes safely, the federal government is prioritizing a fracked gas pipeline and export terminal that local communities and the state of Oregon have firmly said no to,” said Sandy Lyon, an impacted landowner in Douglas County. “Pembina can now attempt to use eminent domain against Oregon landowners, but construction cannot begin without state approval. We will stand firm against this project and we are counting on Oregon to do the same.”
“It’s extremely rare for FERC to deny a permit for an export terminal like Jordan Cove LNG, but it has done so before, illustrating the project’s profound flaws,” said Susan Jane Brown, Public Lands and Wildlife Director and staff attorney at the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC). “The state has made clear this climate-destroying project will be too dangerous for Oregonians’ clean water and air. If the federal administration sees fit to ram this project through against Oregonians’ will, WELC and our allies are prepared to defeat the project in or out of the courtroom again.”
After 15 years, Jordan Cove LNG has failed to qualify for any of the necessary state permits to dredge Coos Bay for an LNG export terminal and to trench across Oregon for a 230-mile fracked gas pipeline, threatening harm to Tribal resources, private landowners, drinking water, and fisheries along the way.
At FERC’s last meeting, the commission voted 2-1 to postpone their decision because the state of Oregon denied a third essential state permit for the LNG terminal and pipeline, signaling a likely failure for the project despite FERC’s approval. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied the Clean Water Act Section 401 permit on May 6, 2019. On January 21, 2020, anticipating another permit denial, Jordan Cove LNG withdrew its Removal-Fill application from the Oregon Department of State Lands.
“FERC’s approval does not change the fact that Oregon has denied this project. Pembina will never be able to show the state of Oregon that this project qualifies for permits under state laws that protect our communities,” said Hannah Sohl, Executive Director of Rogue Climate. “Oregonians from across the political spectrum will continue to stand united until Pembina cancels the proposed fracked gas pipeline and export terminal for good.”
Oregon controls state-owned lands and waters that would be affected by this project and has permitting authority under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Coastal Zone Management Act.
“Pembina has been unable to secure any of the necessary state permits to build in Oregon because there’s no getting around the fact that this project would pose an unacceptable threat to Oregon’s communities and waterways and is clearly not in the public interest. It’s disappointing that FERC failed to recognize this, and we plan to seek a rehearing on this misguided decision,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Nathan Matthews. “Regardless, FERC’s approval does nothing to change the fact that this fracked gas export terminal has no path forward and will never be built.”
Impacted landowners, Tribal governments, environmental organizations, and other intervenors now have a 30-day window to appeal for a rehearing at FERC. The state of Oregon may also petition FERC for a rehearing.
“Evidence in the record clearly indicates this Canadian gas project is anything but in the U.S. public interest,” said Ron Schaaf, whose Klamath County land is on the pipeline route. “On behalf of landowners defending our rights, this decision will be challenged. Every American who cares about private property and states’ rights should be paying attention to the facts of this case.”
Over 40,000 people sent comments to FERC opposing Jordan Cove LNG, and hundreds showed up in opposition at public hearings in Coos, Douglas, Jackson, and Klamath counties last summer.
“FERC has wrongly approved a pipeline that would harm our burial grounds, pollute our waterways, and endanger our community,” said Klamath Tribal member Ka’ila Farrell-Smith. “For years my Tribe, and others, have advocated to stop Jordan Cove LNG, and we will continue to stand up until this pipeline is stopped for good.”
“This FERC decision doesn’t mean Jordan Cove LNG is moving forward because Oregon has already denied key permits for this project,” said Dave Crane, a commercial fisherman from Coos Bay. “Nevertheless, the community needs to keep on fighting until Pembina cancels Jordan Cove LNG and leaves our bay alone.”
Jordan Cove LNG Permitting Timeline:
- In 2016, FERC denied this same project because “Pacific Connector failed to demonstrate a need for the project sufficient to outweigh the potential harm to the economic interests of landowners whose property rights might be taken by exercise of the right of eminent domain.”
- In 2017, White House Advisor Gary Cohn announced the Trump Administration’s intention to approve the Jordan Cove Project.
- On May 6, 2019, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) delivered a severe blow to Jordan Cove LNG by denying the Clean Water Act Section 401 permit because the massive LNG export terminal and pipeline could not demonstrate that they would meet Oregon’s clean water standards.
- On January 21, 2020, Oregon Department of State Lands rejected a request from Jordan Cove to extend the permitting deadline for Jordan Cove LNG. Anticipating a permit denial, on January 24, 2020, Jordan Cove withdrew its state lands permit application entirely.
- On February 19, 2020, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development denied the Coastal Zone Management Act Consistency Certification for Jordan Cove, marking the third key state permit the Jordan Cove failed to obtain.
- On Thursday, February 20, 2020, FERC voted 2-1 against moving Jordan Cove LNG forward. Commissioner Glick spoke out against the project stating, “[FERC really doesn’t] consider the environmental impacts in our decision-making process. Something is really rotten with that…This Commission has earned its reputation as a rubberstamp.”
The opposition to the Jordan Cove LNG export terminal and Pacific Connector fracked gas pipeline consists of impacted landowners, Tribal members, commercial fishermen, youth, health professionals, and community leaders from four impacted southern Oregon counties and regional allies. We seek to protect our health and safety, resources, and way of life by ensuring that this harmful project is never built.